Last night at New York’s Beacon Theatre, folk legend Joan Baez celebrated her 75th birthday with a performance that brought together several of her friends and colleagues, including Paul Simon, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Richard Thompson and more.
After a couple solo tunes, Baez was joined by David Bromberg for “Freight Train” before David Crosby came on for a cover of “Blackbird.” Damien Rice then appeared for “She Moved Through the Fair,” while Baez and Rice bonded over their shared Irish heritage.
Baez’s rendition of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” compelled the singer to remember her time at Woodstock, where she also sang the song, along with recounting the time she woke up a napping Martin Luther King Jr to that tune so he could go preach.
Mary Chapin Carpenter came onstage for two songs, first “Catch the Wind,” and then later in the evening for “The Water is Wide” which also included the Indigo Girls. Baez said that both that band and Carpenter were the first of the next generation performers that she took under her wing.
Although Baez’s old friend Bob Dylan was not on hand for the celebration, he was there in spirit via the run of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “House of the Rising Sun.” Other notable performances included “Deportee” with Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris, “Oh Freedom” and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” with Mavis Staples and “Gracias a la Vida” with Chilean singer Nano Stern, who thanked Baez on behalf of the Chilean people for her support in dark times.
The performance ended with a crowd-assisted performance of “The Boxer” with Paul Simon and Richard Thompson, which can be heard below, and an encore that began with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with her assisstant Grace Stumberg and rounded out the celebration with “Forever Young.”
Besides the music, Baez noted that she is working on a new album, and that Thompson’s songs were the first to which she was drawn. See the full set and guest list below. The performance is also set to air on PBS as a part of their Great Performance Series in June.
Joan Baez & Friends
Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
God is God, There But for Fortune, Freight Train (with David Bromberg), Blackbird (with David Crosby), She Moved Through the Fair (with Damien Rice), Catch the Wind (with Mary Chapin Carpenter), Hard Times (with Emmylou Harris), Deportee (with Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris), Seven Curses, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Oh Freedom (with Mavis Staples), Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (with Mavis Staples), The Water Is Wide (with the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter), Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (with the Indigo Girls), House of the Rising Sun (with Richard Thompson and David Bromberg), She Never Could Resist a Winding Road (with Richard Thompson), Before the Deluge (with Jackson Browne), Diamonds and Rust (with Judy Collins), Gracias a la Vida (with Nano Stern), The Boxer (with Paul Simon and Richard Thompson)
Enc: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (with Grace Stumberg), Forever Young